by Dr. Sherry Eshraghi
What is gluten? Is gluten really bad for us? We’ve been consuming gluten for centuries, why would it suddenly be bad for us? Why are there conflicting studies on the effects of gluten? What is the difference between gluten allergy and gluten intolerance? Should I try going gluten-free?
I’m sure most of us have these questions and even wonder if we should go on a gluten-free diet. It’s hard to make sense of it all but in terms of recent science, there are definite factors that we should know about gluten and how it affects our health.
Gluten is the Latin word for “glue”; indeed, it is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and is what makes baked goods and breads stretchy and elastic. Here are some facts related to gluten ingestion and disease, especially relating to the difference between gluten allergy (celiac disease) and gluten intolerance.
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that leads to damage in the small intestine due to gluten ingestion. It mostly affects genetically predisposed people. It is estimated 1 in 100 people worldwide have celiac. More than two million Americans go undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications. The main problem is that celiac disease is difficult to diagnose and undiagnosed and untreated celiac disease has serious consequences in the long run. Some symptoms of celiac disease include:
• Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
• Joint pain
• Liver and biliary tract disorders (transaminitis, fatty liver, primary sclerosing cholangitis, etc.)
• Depression or anxiety
• Peripheral neuropathy (tingling, numbness or pain in the hands and feet)
• Seizures or migraines
• and more…
Gluten intolerance presents itself with symptoms of discomfort after ingestion of gluten, including but not limited to bloating, cramps, diarrhea and constipation as opposed to celiac where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The major difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity is that some people with gluten sensitivity can tolerate small amounts of gluten whereas with celiac disease that is not the case.
Celiac disease is readily accepted by scientists but gluten intolerance has not yet been fully understood. Many people report feeling “better” after discontinuing gluten. The main trouble with non-celiac gluten sensitivity is that it can be the cause of gut inflammation that will sooner or later result in gut dysbiosis/leaky gut, that in turn will open the gateway towards many other health issues such as other autoimmune diseases, neurological impairments, depression, oxidative stress, cancer, weight gain, malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalance and more.
In conclusion, although not everyone is gluten sensitive, if you have unexplained symptoms that just won’t go away, you should consider going gluten-free for at least 8 to 12 weeks and observe if your symptoms have disappeared or if they come back after you re-introduce gluten into your diet. If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s, it is definitely recommended that you go gluten-free to prevent and reduce damage to your own tissues and organs.
As her PhD thesis, Sherry Eshraghi, (doctorate in natural medicine), investigated the interconnections between the microbiome, autism and epigenetics. As a research volunteer at the University of Miami, she has co-authored and published peer-reviewed studies. Her main focus continues to be the study of the microbiome as it has changed our view on many diseases to such an extent that gastrointestinal health has become one of the main approaches to facilitate healing in chronic and neurological disorders.
Natural Health Power Works is located at 2645 Executive Park Dr., Weston. For more information and consult, call 305-720-9099 and/or visit NaturalHealthPowerWorks.com.
Disclaimer: Information is for educational purposes only. Content does not render medical or psychological advice, opinion, diagnosis or treatment and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical or psychological problem, you should consult your appropriate healthcare provider.